Summer Brown-lining (or ditch pitching)

I recently heard the term ‘brown-lining’ used by some buddies of mine in the Red Stick Fly Fishers Club. I kind of had an idea what they meant because I knew what blue lining was. Blue lining is fishing small, cold water creeks for trout. You look on a map of the area and you hike on out to the “blue line.” Since we don’t have any cold water creeks in south Louisiana, we do the next best thing…brown lining, or what I used to call it…ditch pitching. I guess brown lining sounds more sophisticated? or not??

Anyway, now that I’m through with camps, I wanted to get a mid morning trip in. My buddies said that this kind of fishing is fun, because you never know what you’ll see or catch. This morning’s trip was that sort of trip. I pulled my truck over to a drainage ditch that I had actually fished many years ago with a former student of mine. I remembered catching a lot of bass, bluegill, and what I consider the most beautiful and colorful fresh water fish in Louisiana, the long-eared sunfish. That was my target species for the morning.

We have been in a mini drought here in south Louisiana and I was prepared to see very shallow, but clear water. I would have to look for deeper cuts in order to find fish. I began with a hare’s ear nymph and I quickly began casting to some pretty spooky fish. It didn’t take long for me to realize these fish were looking up, so I tied on a yellow foam fly. No sooner than I had made the switch, I landed a pretty bluegill. I also quickly landed a small largemouth black bass, but I lost my fly when I tried to set the hook on another fish and it got caught in the tree behind me. No worries because I had a whole box of foam flies. I tied on a black beetle and quickly caught several more bluegill.

This bluegill sucked in a black beetle

Soon there after, I landed my target species, a long eared sunfish.

Look how pretty this little guy was

And another and another. This went on for an hour or so until I got tired of catching these. I then spotted a garfish sitting still in about 10 inches or so of water. I tied on a squirrel-tail jig pattern that looked like a leech or a small crawfish. After several bad casts, I managed to get one close to those sharp teeth. It turned on my presentation and crushed the fly. I actually got the hook to stick (miraculously) and I had to figure out how I was going to land it without a net. I worked it down to an area that looked like I could ease it over a mud bank. Well, that hook set eventually worked itself out and the garfish casually swam away before I could snap a picture.

One of the cool things about this kind of fishing is you really never know what you will see or what you will hook into. I saw a catfish but I couldn’t get it to eat. I then began sight fishing to garfish. I hooked three more but each one ended up either getting off the hook or cutting my line. It was fun anyway. I figured I had had enough with the garfish so I tied up another foam fly that my friend, Drew Ross ties for trout and carp. I picked up several more fish on that fly before I called it a morning.

I have to remember to bring a net and some good hiking shoes next time. I hyperextended my big toe trying to climb up out of the ditch and I’m icing it down as I write this 😦

Here are some pictures from the morning:

These fish are so pretty, they look like they belong in an aquarium.

There were many other things to see this morning included great white herons, geese, a multitude of turtles, and one small water snake. If you haven’t tried “brown lining ” or “ditch pitching,” then you should give it a try.

Tight loops and tight lines πŸ™‚

Getting my Mojo Back

It has been a long time since I had a good day “catching” fish down in our South Louisiana Marsh. Any trip in our marsh is indeed, a blessing; whether I catch fish or not. Being able to experience the beauty that God created for us is worth the price of gas (whew… it keeps getting more expensive to enjoy). Yesterday’s trip was one for the books when it comes to enjoying the beautiful creation that too many of us take for granted.

I joined my friend and fellow fly fisherman, Chuck (Snakedoctor), for a trip to Hopedale, Louisiana. We knew we should have good fishing conditions (good sun, low winds, some tidal movement) and we hoped the fish would cooperate. I was breaking in a new kayak…yes, I have gone over to the dark side and I purchased a Hobie Compass, and I was looking to “slime” it. Chuck fishes nearly exclusively out of a Compass, so I was also looking for tips from him on how to load and unload the kayak, how to secure it to the bed of my truck, and how to fish out of it without getting my fly line stuck in the pedals. Right away, I started getting my line caught around the pedals and Chuck showed me how to secure the pedals in a way that would make casting easier.

I guess the biggest help Chuck was to me was, he taught me not to be so stubborn with my sight fishing. He showed me that quality redfish can be caught on the fly rod without having to sight fish for them. If any of you follow this blog, you know that for me, nothing beats sight-fishing for redfish in the shallows. I’m always searching for the perfect day with perfect conditions…low, clear water. However, with the cold water temperatures we have been experiencing, sight fishing the way I traditionally do has been out of the question. The shallow water, although gin clear, is just too cold and the only fish I’ve seen in the shallows the past two trips have been mullet and garfish. Chuck caught a couple of bass early on and I caught and released a 12-inch speckled trout. I figured I would have to do better than 12 inches if I was going to have to clean any fish today (sorry dad and mom). We decided to try our luck with speckled trout by fishing in deeper water. Chuck was the first to catch a speckled trout. I saw him with a big curve in his rod and he was getting the net. He said it was an upgrade to his Massey’s CPR Tournament. Anytime you catch an 18 inch trout on a 6 wt. fly rod, you have a reason to be excited.

Chuck smiling with an 18 inch trout

I snapped this picture of Chuck and his trout and I continued fishing. I then hooked into something that I thought was a small redfish, because it pulled hard and stayed down…not the traditional tell-tale head shaking that most trout do. I soon realized it was a huge trout! I netted it and measured it on my paddle at 20 inches. After weighing it (2.9 lbs) I realized I had just caught my personal best trout on the fly rod.

At 20.5 Inches, this trout is my personal best on the fly rod.

We continued to fish that stretch of deeper water and we each only picked up another trout, which was nothing worth sticking around for, so we headed off to some other areas in search of redfish.

Chuck was the first to hook into a really good “tugger” that measured 26 inches on his spoon fly. He caught it in deeper what (not sight fishing)

What a beautiful redfish! But who is the masked fisherman? πŸ™‚

I decided to forego sight fishing in the shallow flats and I began to “blind cast” certain points and the edges of the grass flats in deeper water. That was the ticket for me. I hooked into an energetic 27-inch red that took me into my backing. After a long fight, I got that one to the net.

I think we’re going to need a bigger net.
27 inches released to fight another day.

We continued to pound the deeper water around cuts and ditches in the marsh and Chuck connected on his third redfish of the day.

Anyway, I don’t want this post to get too long. I’ll do a review of the Compass (maybe during the halftime show of the Superbowl LOL). The day was actually incredible. We saw tons of wildlife included diving and puddle ducks, numerous other marsh hens, herons, and other birds. I did look for the alligator that roams this area (it’s about 8 to 10 feet long by now) but I didn’t see it. This should hold me for a while…honey do’s to do πŸ™‚ Until next time. Tight loops and tight lines.

One More Post for 2021

I didn’t know how to title this post. My choices were several, including “Fun on the 3 wt,” “A Crappie Ending to a Crappy Year,” “The Sunfish Trifecta,” or “Self-Quarantine Fun.” I couldn’t find a winner so I just chose, “One More Post for 2021.” Also, please forgive the two attempts I made at inserting a quick video. Not I cannot seem to be able to delete them. Just read on. πŸ™‚

I had actually been looking forward to this week. I had a whole week off from teaching and I had just said goodbye to my daughter’s family and my three grandchildren. Wouldn’t you know it, the weather got hot, cloudy, and windy…not good redfish sight fishing weather. In fact, the weather looked pretty crappy so I’ve been staying inside, tying flies and cleaning up my tying table.

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I got a cup of coffee, did my “Bible in a Year” podcast, and I headed out to my neighborhood lake with my kayak in tow, a popper on a 5 wt, and a fluff butt on the 3 wt. I made a valiant attempt to hit the banks with the popper but I was having no luck at all. So I decided to focus on my favorite sunfish, bluegill and red-ear sunfish (chinquapin). I started catching small bluegill right away.

small but pretty
a little larger at 7 inches

I realized that the larger fish were hanging in deeper water, about 8-10 feet from the bank. I then hooked into a descent chinquapin.

These red-ear sunfish are thick and they fight hard on a 3 wt

Not long after that fish, I hooked what is probably my personal best chinquapin on my fly rod.

I measured that big one out at 11 inches on my paddle and I released it.

I was about to call it a day, when I caught my third different species in the sunfish family, a crappie (sacalait).

This one was 9 inches long

I was completely content at this point and I started heading back to my pickup point. That’s when I hooked a larger sacalait.

Now I had just told one of my neighbors who lives on the lake that I wasn’t keeping fish today. Heck, I hadn’t even thought about bringing my stringer because I’ve never caught a bunch of sacalait or big chinquapin in the month of December on the lake. Well, I proceeded to catch three more sacalait (all big enough to fillet) and I released them. That’s when it hit me…we have been eating Christmas leftovers for five days now and it’s time to eat something different. So, I beached my kayak and took the five minute walk over to my house to grab my stringer. I paddled back to where I had caught the last three sacalait, and wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t get a bite…well for about five minutes or so. Then I caught a nice one…then another… then another.

I had one break my size 3x tippet. I found that to be strange because it broke it off at the loop where I made the loop-to-loop connection. I patiently tied on another three-foot piece of tippet material and another fluff butt and I continued to catch a couple more sacalait before that tippet broke too. I was beginning to wonder if the brand new Orvis 3x tippet was defective. I wasn’t going to chance breaking off again, so I tied on 0x on my 3 wt. πŸ™‚ I finally called it a day with 8 good slabs.

They weren’t “hammers” but they were good-sized “slabs”

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my morning with just two days left to the year. Heck, I’m probably going to try another neighborhood lake tomorrow morning. What a great way to end 2021!

Fried to perfection

A Crappie End to 2021

Dusting off the 8wts

I had to look back on this blog to see when was the last time I made a fishing trip to the South Louisiana Marsh in search for redfish and speckled trout. I saw that I made a couple trips in June and that’s it. That’s either a sad state of affairs for me or, the fresh water fishing has been awesome and it doesn’t warrant making the 2-and-a-half hour trip down to the coastal marshes to get some fishing in. Well, luckily for me, it was the latter. However, I do love fishing our South Louisiana Marshes in the fall and I saw a window of opportunity that opened after church yesterday. Here’s what my window looked like:

The winds were going to lay down
There was zero chance of rain and 100% chance of full sun
I had no school or family obligations
My wife was in Disneyworld with her sisters πŸ™‚

What I didn’t count on was this:

The water was high and muddy
There was zero tidal movement

Here’s the abbridged story:

I left Baton Rouge around 9:30 and headed to a spot I’ve fished for 10+years just north of Leeville. Most of you are probably aware that this area was destroyed by Hurricane Ida this past August. I saw lost of blue tarps on houses along the way and as I got closer to Leeville, I noticed buildings that had been gutted and it looked like some of those will not rebuild. There was debris all over the marsh, from empty fuel tanks to refrigerators and a lot of sheet metal.

After a quick combat launch, I made the quick paddle out to one of the spots that has produced for me in the past. Right off the bat, I had hooked into a small “schoolie” trout. About 3 casts later, I hooked into a nicer one at 16 inches

I know it doesn’t look like 16 inches but I measured it when I got home

I thought this was going to be the beginning of a wonderful afternoon, but much to my dismay, this trout must have been a loner. 😦

After catching a few more dink trout, I decided to switch gears to see if I could sight fish for some redfish. I thought surely, the storm would have brought some fresh fish inside. I guess the visibility was around 8 inches but I couldn’t see a thing. The wind was calm (too calm because the gnats were bad) and I constantly listened for the sounds of fish chasing bait along the marsh grass. I didn’t hear a thing except for the lively mammals in the area (nutria, otters, and porpoise) I just wished the fish would have been that lively. I chalked it up to the fact that there was no tide movement. About two hours into the hunt for redfish, I finally saw a huge bull red that was cruising about 15 feet from me. It was probably cruising about 3 mph while I was drifting about 3 mph in the opposite direction, so I couldn’t even get a cast off.

One of the highlights of the day were the numerous sheepshead I kept seeing. I didn’t check the time, but around 3 PM, I decided that the trout and the redfish weren’t going to play, so I tied on one of my musicdoc sheepshead shrimp flies. Of course, not that I had a shrimp fly tied on, I wasn’t spotting as many sheepshead as before and those I did see, were spooking and high tailing it to deeper water. I was casting toward a sheepshead when I noticed another large wake around the bank. That’s when I spotted my second redfish of the day. It made the mistake of staying in the shallows where I could see it and I attempted to make a well-placed cast toward it. Notice the emphasis on the word, “well-placed?” That was the original plan. My fly, however, nearly hit the redfish on its gill plate. It spooked momentarily and then it violently chased down that shrimp fly that had nearly hit its gill plate. Bam, fish on! I hadn’t felt the pull of a redfish since late June. This one had a lot of fight in it and it took a while to land this 23.5 inch beauty.

23.5 inch redfish put up a good fight on my 8 wt.

You can see just how calm the water was in this picture. It was a great day to be on the water. Like I told a friend of mine, “you can’t catch fish by sitting on your couch in the living room.” I hope to be able to get back on the water before Christmas. I’m still looking for that perfect day when everything lines up perfectly: sun, moon, water, and wind. That’s full sun, good tidal movement, clear water, and very little wind πŸ™‚

The absolute highlight of the day was when I was able to Facetime my grandchildren to show them the “big fish” Poppie had just caught. Their eyes lit up and they shared their excitement with me. That must have looked something like this:

Using this blog as a fishing log

I occasionally look back on this blog to see what time of year certain fish turn on for me, kind of like a fishing log of sorts. For example, I have kept track of when the speckled trout begin to make their move inside during their fall migration. I also keep track of when the sacalait begin to bite and when the bass begin to cruise the shallows in the neighborhood lakes in the spring and in the fall. I was looking back on a morning trip I took last year right after the first cool snap (temps in the lower 50s) and I noticed I had some considerable success right after our first cold front brought temperatures down in the 50s. So, I kind of had I idea that slipping the kayak into the neighbor lake this morning would bring me some action.

And why not? After a week of homecoming festivities that kept me at work until after 10 PM two evenings and after 8 PM another, I was due a morning of peaceful solitude with my fly rod and a deer-hair popper or two. The color of choice for this morning’s adventure? The purple and gold of our Tigers who upset those pesky Gators yesterday! I slipped my kayak into the water around 6:45, right at first light and began tossing a deer-hair diver toward the bank. About ten minutes into my morning paddle, I had hooked into my first bass. It was a small one, probably under 10 inches, but I recalled my trip from last year that the morning began with small fish and progressed nicely to larger ones.

The first fish of the morning smacked my version of the purple and gold Dalhberg diver

Five minutes later, I landed another one…and it was a little larger.

Here is a good picture of that diver

I began to notice a pattern. The fish were pretty tight against the bank and they seemed to consistently get larger as the morning wore on. Still, it was only around 7:15 when I landed fish number three.

Another one was liking the Tigers πŸ™‚

It seemed I was catching fish every five minutes or so, and by now I had caught four bass and I had lost a couple. Some of the takes were small slurps and others were downright slams! There was no consistency in the way they were hitting the bug. I did tell myself to pay attention because one of the missed fish was because I never really noticed the slurp and I didn’t get a good hook set in it. I was casting to a shallow area near one of the fountains when I saw a slight swirl and my popper disappeared. I set the hook good in it and it took off. I realized this one was larger…much larger. It took off toward the water fountain and started dragging me toward the water. I started cracking up because it seemed like this fish thought I needed a shower or something. I frantically tried to turn it and that wasn’t working, so I dug my paddle in the water to keep from getting soaked. I was beginning to think I was going to loose this fish in the wires or the downed debris under the fountain when I finally got the fish to turn away from the fountain. Meanwhile, I had gotten wet. If anyone was watching me, they certainly got a show and watched as we both laughed at my predicament. The fish tried one last time to get under the fountain and I was able to turn it without getting another shower from the fountain. When I saw its mouth, I knew it was a beast. I got a measurement from the ruler on my paddle at 21 inches, which is probably my personal best in length (not in weight) on the fly rod. I was in my yellow Wilderness Tarpon kayak and not my Jackson, so my fish scale wasn’t with me but I estimate the fish to be over 4.5 pounds and probably a conservative 5. This fish will be in the 6-7 lb range in the spring with it fattens up for the spawn.

Long and skinny but very long!
My arms weren’t long enough to get the full fish in the picture.
And my kayak wasn’t wide enough. That’s what you call a ‘bucket mouth.’
I love watching this big ones swim off. Thanks for the adventure!

Soon I regained my bearings from that adventure, I found myself setting the hook on another nice chunky bass. This one was 16 inches.

Another nice fish that went for the LSU diver.

It seemed like I was catching a fish now on just about every other cast.

This one had a smaller mouth but was quite a bit chunkier than the others.

I continued to fish until 8:15, when the action slowed and the fish started getting smaller again. I was able to walk my kayak back home and fix breakfast for Lisa and myself. What a great morning of fishing!

This small fellow was hungry!

Dog Days of Summer (Video)

Dog Days of Summer get you down? Pandemic get you down? Then, check out my latest video. I spent 2 hours at a friend’s lake/pond and I was able to entice a few bass to eat a deer-hair frog popper. The days are actually getting shorter and I think there is a little bit of thermal cooling taking place. That, coupled with some afternoon showers, is gradually cooling the water enough to get them to come back to the shallows to feed on frogs and baby bream. Enjoy!

Summer Bassin’

The rainy weather is keeping me from going to the marshes so I’m going to make the most of it by staying local and fishing for bass and bream. Oh, and I’ve been tying a few flies too. I’ve been venturing away from my deer hair bugs and I’ve been tying with foam lately to target bluegill.

So, this report will cover two morning fishing trips. One in my neighborhood lake and the other at my buddy’s private lake. The private lake is my go-to spot when I really want a quiet morning that us going to be 90% productive. So Monday, my body clock woke me up at 5:30 again and I walked my kayak a block-and-a-half to our neighborhood lake. I’m really blessed because we actually have two lakes that are adjacent to each other…separated by a small concrete dam. We call them the “upper” lake and the “lower” lake. To get a change of scenery, all I have to do is either fish the upper lake or the lower lake. I find that the upper lake, which is more shallow, provides a better fly fishing experience (mostly with poppers). The lower lake is deeper, it is much larger, and it has more numbers (and probably has larger fish). I have heard reports of local kids catching 8-pound bass in both lakes though, so there are probably big fish in both. However, I find that the bass can be more challenging to catch on flies in the lower lake. Well that theory went bust, if you read my previous post. I caught five nice bass in the lower lake.

I was wanting a change of scenery Monday, so I slipped my kayak in the water around 5:50 in the upper lake. I noticed that the shad were no longer spawning near the banks but I still had confidence that I could get a couple of takers on poppers. Much to my surprise, it was a very slow morning. I did catch a nice bluegill on a size 1/0 popper and two 12-inch bass.

This was a very ambitious eater!
Just under 12 inches
Right at 12

I decided to hop the levee and fish the lower lake, the one where I had success on the previous trip. I didn’t even manage a bite. All was quiet. My biggest catch of the morning was this. I always pick up any trash I find in the neighborhood lakes and dispose of it appropriately. Hard seltzer and Coors Light?? You’ve got to be kidding me! πŸ™‚

Does no one in my neighborhood drink good beer???

So fast forward a couple of mornings. I had the kayak loaded in the back of my truck and I was armed with two 5 wt rods; one with a deer hair popper (to imitate the crawfish the bass have been eating) and the other with a Musicdoc shad. I made the 35 minute run to my buddies lake and I slipped my kayak in the water just before 6 AM. Immediately, I saw some bait working the shoreline (spawning shad) and a few big swirls of fish feeding. After a few misguided casts, I finally was able to get a nice one to eat. It was a healthy 14-inch bass that I released. I had to work the shoreline pretty hard before I caught my next bass on the popper.

crawfish imitation deer hair popper worked on this 11-inch bass

My buddy has instructed me that if I want to continue to fish his lake, I have to harvest everything under 15-inches. He wants to make it a trophy lake. So, this little guy went on the stringer. I noticed that the herons and egrets (I wish I would have taken pictures because I saw at least 4 different species) were having a lot more success than me and were gorging themselves on the shad that were flittering and fluttering near the shore. I decided to switch to my rod with the shad streamer on it and I soon had a nice hookup.

This one ate the Musicdoc shad

I kept looking to see if I could identify a specific pattern. In previous trips, I’ve been able to sight fish for the bass by watching for them as they work in groups of two or three to “herd” baitfish up against the bank. I never saw that this morning. I did see an occasional single fish eat near the bank but by the time I paddled over there, it had most likely either moved or gotten its fill. It has been well documented that summertime bass fishing is tough. Large bass seem to know that they have to get a lot of bang for their buck. They need an easy meal, one that will fill them up so they don’t have to feed as aggressively throughout the hot day. I figured that was why I was only catching smaller fish. Most of the bass were in deeper water. I began to fish my shad fly about 10-15 feet from the bank and that’s where I had my most success.

Even this chunky bluegill was eating shad today.
Another one that ate the Musicdoc Shad

I managed to catch seven bass, which is normally a good morning. However, this lake usually produces double-digit numbers of bass for me. I decided to call it a morning around 9:30 and I headed home to get some work done for school. I did catch an 18-inch fish that had the mouth of a 4 -pound fish but the body of a 2-and-a-half pound fish. (I actually weighed it)

I did harvest six bass in all and I was surprised to see that all of them had empty stomachs. I guess the summer heat has them lethargic. Oh, well, you know what that means, right? More research! πŸ™‚

Tight loops and tight lines!

Happy Fourth of July. Catching new species on the Fly Rod.

Wow! We have already gone through the month of June and I haven’t added much to this blog. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been fishing…well not that much. I did manage one trip to Delacroix with a buddy of mine and I managed to catch two 21-inch redfish. Not a new species for me, but I had these two pictures I had to share. πŸ™‚

One of two redfish that I was able to actually land πŸ™‚
Pretty pumpkin color on these fish.

Now for the new species. For quite some time now, I’ve wondered why some fly fishermen travel hundreds of miles to remote areas to catch 5 and 6 inch trout. Some of these fish have names like Apache trout, Gila trout, etc. I get why they like fishing remote areas. I love people. I just don’t love having to share my fishing hole with bunches of them while I fish. As for new species, I recall the thrill I experienced three years ago when I caught my first Chicken Dolphin on the fly rod. I brought my 8 wt. with me on an offshore trip I made. You can read about it here. (https://kevinandry.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/redefining-the-word-epic/) But those fish were three-to-five-pound fish and they pulled hard. Well it’s taken three years since that trip for me to finally get got an opportunity to catch a new species on my fly rod..and while the fish were relatively small, the experience of catching a rare fish for the first time was totally cool. Last week, my family took a trip to the Texas hill/wine country to do some relaxing with my three beautiful grandchildren. We spent three days in a cabin on the Blanco River and I was able to “sneak” out with my fly rod one drizzly morning. I said, “sneak,” but I really had planned to do some fishing at least for a few hours one morning during this trip. I was having so much fun with my family, (I did mention Texas Wine country too so there was plenty wine consumed during this trip) that I didn’t feel the urge to wake up early without the grandkids and fish without them until the very last morning. To be perfectly honest though, the first two days I spent on the water with the grandkids provided me with opportunities to scout the area near our cabin for fish. We waded, swam with “floaties, and we even rented a kayak one morning to explore the area. By the third morning, I had a good idea what areas would be holding fish.

The morning I ventured out, the weather didn’t look too promising. There were lots of showers in the area and it was already drizzling. I knew this would be my last chance to fish the Blanco, so I wasn’t going to let a little rain keep me off the water. We had used all the ziplock bags for leftover food and such, so I had no way of keeping my phone dry and I definitely didn’t want to risk soaking it if I stepped into deep water (which I did) or if I slipped and fell (which I also did). So, I realized that any fish I did catch would not get photographed. I began the morning with a foam dry fly that a buddy of mine uses for trout and carp. I use the fly for big bluegill by my house and I figured I’d catch a few bluegill, and maybe a small bass or two on it. About five minutes into my fishing, I placed a perfect cast by a submerged log and I got a good eat from a feisty Rio Grande Cinchid. Although it wasn’t the first time I’ve caught a Rio, it was the first time I actually caught one in Texas.

This is what a typical Rio looks like. Mine was probably about 10 inches long, so I was quite pleased with myself.

My next species was a very small black bass. Not a new species either, but nevertheless, I was catching fish on a dry fly in the Blanco River. The next few fish I caught, however, were brand new to me. In fact, I had to look the species up on the internet to confirm what kind of sunfish it was. They were a type of sunfish called the red breast sunfish. This sunfish has a “long ear” but doesn’t have the beautiful coloration of the long ear. I also noted that the mouth on these little fish is quite large, somewhere between a regular bluegill and a warmouth (which we call goggle-eye in South Louisiana). I probably caught 8 or so of these fish which ranged from about 3 inches to maybe 7 inches for the biggest one.

Redbreast Sunfish

The most exciting new species for me, however, was the rare Guadalupe bass. I landed three of these little guys, with the largest one going about 11 inches or so. I’m so used to catching largemouth bass, the coloration of these guys caught me by surprise at first. I had read about people catching this subspecies of bass so I kind of had an idea there were a few of them in the Blanco. Plus, I had seen a couple large ones (probably 1.5-2 lbs) when I was in the kayak the previous day. The water was so clear, it was obvious they weren’t largemouth bass.

Here is a photo of a Guadalupe

I don’t know if I’ll ever find myself chasing Apache trout or Gila trout, but I can check the Guadalupe bass and the red breast sunfish off my bucket list. I have to invest in a waterproof phone protector because I don’t have any real “photo” evidence from this trip but there is a silver lining to this. We found a great winery in Fredericksburg and my daughter and her husband joined their wine club, so we have an excuse to go back soon…YES!!!

Now that we are in the thick of sweat-fest 2021, and the summer thunderstorm pattern has developed, I’ll probably have to limit my fishing to early morning jaunts out to local ponds and lakes. If the weather looks like it will be conducive to sight-fishing, however, I’ll probably head to my beloved South Louisiana marshes to chase the “spot-tailed Elvis,” as a good friend of mine calls him.

Happy Fourth of July! Tight loops and tight lines to you all.

The Neighborhood Lakes, Revisited πŸ™‚

Based on the fact that my last post here was a “revisited” post, and we’ve had all this rain lately, I did want to share a small story about the benefits of this rain during the months of April, May, and early June. During those months, the shad in the neighborhood lakes begin to spawn. They look for floating debris (weeds), foam, and shoreline and they do their “morning dance,” as I call it every morning from about a half hour before sunup right to sunrise. When the rains come and the water overflows from the upper lake, over the dam, to the lower lake, the morning bite can be spectacular! It’s nothing to see over a thousand shad “fluttering” by the bank edges, but they especially like the moving water and the foam it creates as it cascades over the man-made dam. When this happens, one gets to witness the feeding frenzy that the bass and sacalait have for one special half hour in the wee wee hours of the morning.

I made the 6-minute walk a couple days last week and I was treated to this special phenomenon…and a few fish. All fish were caught on my shad-fly, which I think I have finally perfected. One morning I caught 5 sacalait and three nice bass. The very next morning, I caught 3 sacalait and three bass. The bass were all released back into the lakes. The sacalait will be released into a skillet of hot grease very soon. πŸ™‚

School is out. Time to get down to the SELA marsh.

I have been looking for a chance to get down to my beloved Southeast Louisiana marsh to do some fishing for (as a good friend of mine calls him)the spot-tail Elvis, also known as poisson rouge. It seems nothing has worked out for me between my busy schedule and the all-important, weather. We have been experiencing flash flooding and other crazy weather phenomena. So, in the meantime, I keep my fishing obsession in check by going to my neighborhood lakes and chasing the fish by the dam after a heavy rain. My best morning was a 40-minute trip where I caught 5 bass and 3 slab sacalait

It’s really something with the sacalait are almost as big as my kayak paddles.

I also made a few trips to my friends private lake and had a blast trying different variations of deer hair poppers on the bass and bream.

I found out they were chasing crawfish in the shallows. Thus the crawfish patterned popper.
This one is from the neighborhood lake.
Even the bream were chasing crawfish-colored patterns.
Big bull bream fight like nothing else for their size!

So, when I finally got a break in the weather and I was off of school, I decided to join my brother for a trip down Highway 1 toward Grand Isle. The wind was forecast to blow 5-10 and for once, the weatherman got it right. However, (and I HATE the “howevers”) we found the water to be high and very dirty. That meant our plans for sight fishing would probably have to be scrapped. I went the entire morning without even seeing a single redfish. Then, around noon, I finally saw an upper-slot redfish in the murky water. Of course it was about two feet from the bow of my kayak and when I was able to grab my rod, it nearly bumped into my kayak and took off. I was able to catch a small trout in some moving water, so at least my trip wouldn’t be a total skunk.

I knew where some water with grass would be so I paddled to a few spots in search of clear water and some action. A little after noon, I spotted a very nice sized sheepshead, AKA, the cajun permit. These fish are a challenge on the fly rod and in my experience, they don’t chase down too many patterns. One has to really entice them to eat by putting the fly right in front of its nose without spooking it. This fish was cruising the bank looking to grab a snail or two off the stalks of the marsh grass. I probably made 10 or so casts with one of my shrimp patterns before it finally decided it had seen enough and this invader to its domain should get sucked into those humanlike teeth. Bam! Perfect hook set and the fight was on until it got caught in some grass. A short time later, I was posing with a nice cajun convict.

Posing with my first cajun permit of the year.

A short time after, I saw a healthy redfish cruising that clear water too. I was going to be heading to Houston in the morning to spend time with my wife (who was already there) and my daughter’s family (three grandchildren). I was given instructions to bring a fresh redfish to be baked in my wife’s red gravy. My heart started racing when I saw that redfish! I told myself to FOCUS and remain calm…my first cast…horrible…my second cast…the darned redfish had just changed directions…my third cast…the CHARM! I watched a perfect eat in that clear water. When I set the hook, the redfish turned in an angry burst of water and weeds and just like that, my spoon fly came flying back at me. I was totally dejected. I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong. That is, until I got a closer look at my spoon fly. The doggone redfish actually snapped my hook in half. The fly was dangling by the little bit of epoxy that held it together.

It’s blurry but you can see that hook broke at the base of the “spoon”

I was not ready to give up yet. I saw one more redfish and I kept poling through the marsh trying to get it to eat. It didn’t want to have anything to do with any of my offerings and I figured it was the same redfish I had hooked earlier, so I moved on. Then I saw another pair of sheepshead. Again, I had to make several “offerings” to the fish before it decided to eat my shrimp fly.

This one was actually bigger than the first

Having landed two nice-sized sheepshead and running out of options for clear water, I decided we were going to have to find another fish option in Houston with my grandkids. I headed home with a big smile on my face though. I had caught and released not one, but two “cajun permit.” There will be more chances to face Mr. Redfish later this summer πŸ™‚

I’ll close this post with a humorous short, unedited video of me trying to get that second sheepshead up for a picture. πŸ™‚